Press Release
November 22, 2011

Cayetano: Protect our journalists, end impunity, pass the FOI bill!
(Maguindanao Massacre Anniversary on November 23)

Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano called for an end to impunity in the killings of journalists in the Philippines.

He lamented the unabated spate of killings against members of the media as he recalled the gruesome Maguindanao massacre that killed 57 civilians, 31 of which are journalists, marking its 2nd year anniversary this month.

"It is alarming to see that the perpetrators of this most heinous crime, deemed as the single most deadliest event for journalists in history, have yet to be brought to justice," said Cayetano.

The senator pointed out that the failure of the justice system to prosecute perpetrators behind other deaths of members of the media has led to a total of 11 journalists being killed in the Aquino administration's 2 years of power.

"Jose Daguio, Miguel Belen, Edilberto Cruz, Edison Flameniana Sr, Doc Gerry Ortega, Cirili Gallardo, Len Flores-Sumera, Romeo Olea, Niel Jimena, Johnson Pascual and Roy Quijada Gallego are the 11 journalists whose deaths have yet to be served by justice," he said.

"How many more do we not know about? How many more do we have to see before we act?," he asked.

He also linked journalist killings to the failure of Congress to pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill that provides access to government information including transactions and contracts that will prevent corrupt practices.

"Most of the killings of journalists are linked to their expose' of corruption cases by many unscrupulous local government officials," said Cayetano.

He added that once the FOI Act is in place, journalists need not sacrifice their lives and the security of their families in the name of truth and freedom as FOI guarantees transparency and accountability in government transactions.

The minority leader said it is a disgrace to the nation that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) ranked the Philippines as the third most dangerous countries for media practitioners, next only to Iraq and Somalia.

He also noted the findings of Brussels-based International News Safety Institute (INSI) that determined there are seven journalists who die every year in the Philippines and 85 per cent of these killings, the villains remain unpunished.

"Journalists, who are supposed to be the vanguards of truth and freedom in the society are now under attack and this only reflects the failure of our justice system. How can we say that we are a free country if we can't even protect those who promote free press?," said Cayetano.

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